Original artworks put West Midlands on the map

West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is celebrating the start of the festive season with a series of public transport maps illustrated by local artists.

Images were specially commissioned for each area of the region, now reproduced on pocket travel guides and on posters at travel information points.

WMCA’s transport arm Transport for West Midlands (then Centro), jointly funded production of the project and some artwork, with Arts Council England.

Dudley artist Steve Field co-ordinated the work, the remainder of which was enthusiastically donated by the team of artists.

The artists took a variety of approaches, many choosing to focus on local landmarks and architecture, using techniques ranging from printmaking to paper cuts, ink and watercolour.

Cllr Kath Hartley, TfWM lead for putting passengers first, said: “I would like to thank the artists and the team at TfWM for all their efforts to make this project happen.

“I’m glad we could support local artists and promote their work, the region’s heritage and the public transport network.

“The guides and posters will brighten up the network enormously and I can imagine they may well become collectors’ items.”

  • Richard Clark’s charming etched details of a carved pillar on a music shop featured in the Walsall guide and stained glass windows depicting Bulls on the famous “Vine” public house in Brierley Hill are on a poster.
  • For the Central Wolverhampton guide, Steve Field chose to draw the Victorian “carriage entrance” to Wolverhampton railway station - as contrasted with the new modernist bus station canopy.
  • For Central Birmingham Paul Hipkiss chose to boldly and precisely depict the BT Tower reflected in the nearby canal.
  • Phil Wilkinson produced an impressionistic image of St Alphege Church for the Solihull map, also creating a dramatic expressionistic image of Coventry Cathedral for that guide and a striking poster showing the old cast iron Golds Hill Canal Bridge spanning the Tame Valley Canal in Sandwell.
  • Long-time resident Midlands artist Anne Irby Crews’ work included an evocative poster of the bridge at the Black Country Living Museum and a lively textured Birmingham image depicting a little known canal basin at Sherborne St.
  • Ann Taylor painted creatures at Dudley Zoo and her bold, colourful images of a flamingo, an owl, giraffes and a toucan adorn posters across the network.
  • Another poster shows Paul Hipkiss’s crisp print of a peaceful canal scene near Dudley Port.

Several of the artists are members of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and examples of their other original work are currently on show in the Annual Exhibition at the gallery in Brook St, Hockley.

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